I love you!
I hate exercise. I mean I really, really, hate it. My guess is that it stems from being “forced” to play sports as a kid. In my house, it was mandatory to play a sport every season – tennis, softball, soccer, etc. Aside from my stubborn nature of generally hating being told what to do, I never really found enjoyment in these sports. As a result, the moment that rule was lifted, I stopped participating in all sports and had no motivation for physical activity. This lasted on and off through college. I would go to the gym on campus once a week and act like I knew what I was doing, normally leaving with shin splints from the treadmill. After a few years, I found yoga, which I enjoyed but never felt committed to. When I moved to Northern Liberties, I noticed the Lithe studio with pictures of these amazing women on the windows. I also noticed, day after day, as I walked past to get my morning coffee, the weirdest noise coming out of the studio. Why do they breathe like that? I was completely intimidated.
In 2011, I saw a deal online for five discounted classes and decided to give it a shot. I had a pretty rough start. I do believe that Lithe truly is for anyone, at any level of physical fitness – but it was hard to figure out where I fit in at first. I was in bad shape. Jumping jacks? Push-ups? Abs? Once I started to get the hang of it I bought a couple packages and Lithed semi-regularly for 5-6 months. Then I stopped. I blamed it on money, or knee pain maybe, but really it was laziness. Not only did I stop exercising completely, but I was out of control with my bad eating habits. Shocking result – I gained weight!
By the time February 2012 rolled around, I was really unhappy with my body, and the external stressors in my life (work, relationship, etc.) were starting to close in on me. I needed something that would get me up off the couch. I signed up for Immersion and never looked back. For me, Immersion was the right choice. I was able to slowly build up my strength over three weeks before jumping into classes. This time, I didn’t feel discouraged, I felt determined. I figured out that I needed to accept my limitations and do my best. I struggle with knee pain, tight hip flexors, and a lingering shoulder injury. I modify. I have good days and bad days. I made the decision for myself that quality was better than quantity. I would rather do 15 awesome lunges, than 30 sloppy ones. I admire the strong women around me who nail 30 lunges in stiletto – and I accept that might never be me. The hardest part is holding myself accountable to stop or modify only when it hurts, but not when I’m tired and want to give up.
One year ago, the day after Labor Day, my relationship with my live-in boyfriend of 6 years came to an end. The following day I was in class with Kim in the small studio in Old City and I was barely making it through the barre work. I wanted to sit down. I wanted to walk out. At that moment, Kim, in her infinite and unknowing wisdom, started in on one of her mid-class motivational pep talks. “This is your hour! Forget everything else that is going on in your life and outside of the studio and focus on this!” Well, that hit pretty close to home. Staring in the mirror doing sumos and trying not to cry was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had in the studio.
Kim was dead-on, and I took it to heart. When you come to the studio for an hour, you are going to work hard and it’s not going to be easy, but literally nothing else matters. You have a full hour out of the day to commit to yourself – an hour that is not impacted by your job, your dating life, your kids, your friends. Outside of the studio, this year has been tumultuous. Single for the first time since I was 20? Unemployed? Broke? With all these things going on around me, I was committed to getting to the studio. I knew I could walk in with the weight of the world on my shoulders, sweat it out, and walk out an hour later with a new outlook on life.
Making the commitment to Lithing 5-6 times a week paid off in the studio as well. Push-ups on my toes for the first time in my life! Mastering the Pom CCS, only to wonder why it ever took so long to figure out! Realizing that CCS might mean deadly cardio, but it’s SO MUCH FUN! Actually feeling what the instructors mean by “the space between your stomach and the floor” in a Superman hover! My results are measured in these terms. I don’t own a scale and I don’t know my weight (or care what the number is). In 2012, I wore size 12 pants, now it’s a 6 or an 8 (sometimes a 10 to fit the Lithe Booty). I used to hate wearing sleeveless shirts, now tank tops are my friends. Shorts? Bathing suits? These things don’t scare me!
The month of August was extremely challenging for me, both inside and outside the studio. I realized I was very close to making Varsity but I would need to make some extra efforts to make it happen. With the help of some awesome women, staff, instructors, and other fabulous Lithers, I was actually able to achieve this goal. This brings me to my final point…
Lithe is a place where you can get what you want from the experience. Some women want to walk in, work out for an hour, and get out. Other women want camaraderie to help them with their fitness or weight loss goals. For some, it’s a social venue. For me, it’s a place full of awesome women who I want to know. Some days I’m the get-in and get-out type, but mostly I stop to talk to everyone – front desk, instructors, other Lithers. And if you’ve met me, you know I lay it all out there (no filter here!). Lithe has been a fundamental part of my life, especially over this past year while so many other things have been in flux. I know that when I walk in, I am surrounded by other women who have also made it a priority in their lives to come to this place and who love it just as much as I do.